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The Art of Vocal Fitness: Flexing Your Voice for Optimal Performance

The Amazing Muscles Behind Singing


Hi there! Did you know that singing is all about muscles? In fact, there are three important parts of singing that are controlled by muscles.

First, when we breathe out, our muscles squeeze the air out of our lungs. Then, the air goes up through our windpipe, where other muscles control how the breath flows through our vocal cords. These vocal cords are made up of muscles that can do all sorts of things like opening, closing, vibrating, lengthening, shortening, getting thinner, and relaxing. These movements are controlled by special muscles in our throat called the intrinsic laryngeal muscles.

When we sing or talk, our pitch changes. This happens when different muscles work together to stretch or shorten our vocal cords. The more our vocal cords are stretched, the higher our pitch gets. But if our vocal cords are shortened, our pitch becomes lower.

The muscles that stretch and lengthen our vocal cords are called the cricothyroid muscles, while the muscles that help tense and relax our vocal cords are called the thyroarytenoid muscles. These two sets of muscles work against each other to create the different pitches we use when we speak and sing. Pretty neat, right?


When we sing, there's something called resonation that's really important. It's all about our muscles and how they help us make different sounds. We have these special parts in our body called the laryngopharynx, oropharynx, buccal cavity (mouth), and velum (soft palate) that are the main resonators. These parts can change their shape and size just a little bit to help make the sound we want when we sing. And the reason they can do this is because they're made of stretchy muscles.

One of the most adjustable parts of our mouth is our tongue. It's made up of eight muscles that can do all sorts of things like getting longer or shorter, curling or uncurling, and even making grooves. These movements help us do important things like eat and chew, but they also help us make different vowel sounds when we sing.

Right at the top of our throat, there's a special muscle called the soft palate or velum. It moves up and down depending on how we're breathing or making sounds. When we breathe through our nose, the soft palate is relaxed and lets air flow freely. But when we make sounds, the soft palate goes up to block the air from going into our nose. However, for certain sounds like "m" and "n" the soft palate drops just a little bit to let some air go into our nose. This helps create a special kind of sound called nasal resonance. The way the soft palate moves can be different for each person and it can also be influenced by the language we speak and our cultural habits.


Let's now talk about articulation! Articulation is all about the muscles in our body, except for the hard palate and the alveolar ridge, which are made of bones. The rest of our articulators are controlled by muscles. When we make words, it's a pretty complex process that needs all the muscles in our voice to work together perfectly.

But here's something cool: the nasal cavities don't really use muscles to help us make sounds. They do have a small role in making vowel sounds and some consonant sounds, but they don't have muscles to control them like the other articulators do. Because of this, their job in making our voice resonate isn't as important as the muscles. Also, things like mucus and tiny hairs called cilia in our nasal cavities can sometimes get in the way of resonance. So, even though people think that resonance happens in our nose, it's actually not a big part of it.

Singing is like being an athlete

Singers are athletes! Just like athletes use their muscles to do amazing things, singers use a bunch of muscles in their bodies to make beautiful sounds. You know when you sing and it doesn't sound quite right? Well, it doesn't mean you're not musical. It might just mean that your muscles aren't strong or coordinated enough. It's like when you try to do a sport but your muscles aren't ready yet. Singing is the same way!

When you sing, your muscles have to work really hard. It's just like playing a sport. So, if you're not the best singer, it could be because your vocal muscles aren't strong and coordinated yet, not because you're not musical. But if you're a good singer with a strong and flexible voice, it means your vocal muscles are super strong and work together really well. Singers are like athletes who can flex their voice muscles in musical ways. How awesome is that? If you think of singing as a sport, then you can understand that learning to sing well is kind of like learning a sport.

Now, I don't want to make it seem like natural talent isn't important (including being naturally strong). The best singers are really musical and have really good ear-throat coordination. But, from what I've seen teaching people how to sing, I truly believe that musical talent is something we're born with. And guess what? All of us can learn to sing, and even be really good at it, if we work on our vocal muscles enough. It's not like people wake up one day and suddenly become good singers or have a magical moment where they can sing perfectly. They just practice and get better over time, just like athletes do. So keep practicing and who knows, you might become the next singing superstar!

Overcoming Weak Larynx Muscles for Improved Pitch Control

Let's talk about how our voice works, especially when we sing. One of the main things beginner singers worry about is singing in tune. So, let's break it down.

When we sing, our vocal folds (which are like little flaps in our throat) make two important adjustments. First, they come together, and second, they change their length and tension. These adjustments happen at the same time. The first adjustment lets air pressure from our lungs make the vocal folds vibrate and create sound waves. The second adjustment determines the pitch or how high or low the sound is. The length and mass of our vocal folds affect how fast they vibrate. Longer vocal folds vibrate slower and make lower sounds, like men's voices. Shorter vocal folds vibrate faster and make higher sounds, like women's voices.

When someone sings "in-tune" it means they can make their vocal folds stretch to the right length and tension for the notes they want to sing. But when someone sings "off-pitch" it means their vocal folds aren't getting to the right length and tension for the notes they want to sing. If the vocal folds are too loose, the singer will sound "flat" and if they're too tight, the singer will sound "sharp". All these adjustments are controlled by muscles around our voice box called the larynx. So, it makes sense that exercises that strengthen and coordinate these muscles can help us sing better.

Unraveling the Role of Pharyngeal Constriction

Let's talk about the pharynx, which is a fancy word for a muscular cavity in your throat. It's made up of the laryngopharynx and oropharynx, along with the oral cavity and soft palate. These parts have an important job - they help you make different vowel sounds when you speak or sing. They also make your voice sound unique and louder.

But what would happen if the pharynx couldn't change its size to let sound waves from your voice pass through properly? Well, your voice would probably sound weird. It might sound like you have a stuffy nose, or it could be high-pitched, weak, or dull. You might also have trouble making different sounds or singing loudly.

I like to call this problem "vocal constriction." It's like when the muscles in your throat and mouth get weak and can't do their job properly. This makes it hard for you to make the right sounds when you talk or sing. All vowel sounds need the support of these muscles. If they're weak, your voice will sound constricted, nasal, or strained. That's why it's important to have good throat support when you sing, instead of just focusing on breathing or using your stomach muscles.

There are lots of reasons why our voices can feel tight and constricted. Sometimes it's because we were born with weak muscles in our backs or in our vocal cords. Other times, it's because we don't use our voices enough and they become weak. This can happen if we're not very emotional or if we're shy and don't speak up often. When our vocal muscles don't get a good workout, they become floppy and tight, which can make our voices sound quiet and not as strong. It can also make it harder for us to sing high or low notes and make our voices get tired quickly.

Believe it or not, some people actually make their vocal constriction worse by doing certain vocal exercises. Some singing teachers tell their students to relax their throats or sing from their stomachs, but this can actually make the problem worse. Singing in really high keys all the time can also be a problem. It makes our voice box move up too much, which is not healthy. When our voice box is too high, it messes up the support from our throat, mouth, and soft palate, and makes it harder for us to make vowel sounds.

The Impact of Muscular Imbalance on Singing

The voice is a pretty complicated thing, with lots of muscles working together. These muscles are all connected and depend on each other. If one set of muscles is weak, it can cause problems in other areas of the vocal muscles. For example, if your vocal fold muscles are weak, it can make it harder for your throat to close properly and be flexible. On the other hand, if all your voice muscles are strong and working well together, the tension from singing is spread out evenly among the muscles in your voice box, throat, soft palate, and mouth. This usually leads to a strong, clear voice that can hit different notes and sounds good. But if any part of the vocal muscles isn't working right, it can throw everything off balance and make your voice weaker and less coordinated. Sometimes, other muscles in your neck and chest might try to help out, but it doesn't really work and can make things worse. This can lead to problems like a hoarse voice, trouble with resonance and range, and even vocal nodules.

Vocal nodules are like a singer's worst nightmare because they mess up a singer's voice in a big way. They happen when the outer lips of the vocal folds get irritated from rubbing together too much. These little calluses can make it hard for the vocal folds to close properly, which means the singer won't be able to make their voice sound as strong or as clear. It also messes with their ability to hit high or low notes and make their voice louder or softer.

Sometimes, singers with vocal nodules might even feel like they're being choked when they try to sing, especially when they're trying to hit those really high notes. It can be really tiring for them too, because they have to use extra muscles to try and make their voice work.

Improving Your Articulation and Finding Your Voice

Articulation is all about how well you can speak or sing words so that people can understand you. It's actually a really complicated process! Your throat, mouth, jaw, lips, and even the soft part at the back of your mouth all have to work together perfectly and really fast. When it comes to singing or speaking in a fancy way, it gets even harder because you have to control all those muscles really precisely.

It might seem like a big challenge for your vocal muscles to do all these fancy movements, but they're actually pretty amazing! They can do all these complicated actions really quickly and with a lot of skill.

But here's the thing - even the best singers can struggle with articulation. Sometimes, even if they're really good at singing, they might not be able to pronounce the words clearly. This happens a lot when they're singing really high notes or when they're singing in really high keys that are not natural for their voice.

Sometimes, when you have trouble speaking or singing clearly, it's because your muscles aren't working together properly. One common problem is when your jaw is tight and doesn't move easily. This can make it hard to pronounce words correctly. Another issue is when your tongue is lazy, spasmodic, or slow-moving. Your tongue is super important for speaking and singing, so if it's not working well, it can cause problems. When you're trying to make different sounds, your tongue needs to make small adjustments. But if your throat is too tight, it can make your tongue move in a weird way and block the back of your mouth. This can also make it hard for your soft palate to work properly.

All of this can make it really difficult to sing well. When your tongue is spasmodic, it can also mess with the way your voice sounds. It can stop your muscles in your throat, mouth, and soft palate from making the right adjustments when you're making different sounds.

Overcoming Singing Limitations through Muscle Training

Once upon a time, there was this really amazing singer named Enrico Caruso from Italy. People who know a lot about singing think he's the absolute best opera singer ever! But guess what? When Caruso was just starting out, his first voice teacher, Guglielmo Vergine, didn't think he was anything special. Can you believe it? Vergine thought Caruso's voice sounded like wind blowing through a window! He didn't even want to teach him at first, but eventually gave in. I wonder what Vergine would have said if one of his friends had told him that Caruso would become the greatest opera singer of the 20th century. He probably would have laughed! But here's the thing, Vergine made a big mistake. He didn't realize that even the most talented people need proper training and support to become amazing.

So, the lesson here is that having natural talent is awesome, but it's not enough on its own. You need the right training and nurturing to make your talent shine bright.

Flexing Your Vocal Muscles

Learning how to sing is like being on a sports team. Just like you need strong muscles and coordination to play a sport well, you also need those things to sing well. Some people are naturally good at singing, and we usually think of singing as something musical and not something you can improve. But guess what? You totally can! Singing is like exercising your voice muscles in a musical way. So, if you want to become an awesome singer, the secret is to follow a good training routine to build up your voice muscles.

Really hope this was informative, until nexr time, keep smiling, keep singing and keep believing in yourself,

Sarah McBrady

#voice #loveyourself #beyourself #believeinyourself #vocalcoaching #voices #voicetraining #loveyourvoice #letyourvoicebeheard #vocal #performance #thegiftedvoices

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